Search Engines Like Google Make Memorable Web Addresses for Products and Services More Important Than Ever

A common belief that search engines like Google make specific web addresses relatively unimportant is wrong, states psychologist Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D., who studies effective use of the Internet. In fact, memorable Internet names are more important for advertising than ever before.

August 25, 2004 -- All businesses need targeted, memorable web addresses this century, but most businesses don't have them, maintains a psychologist who studies effective use of the Internet. "All businesses today are online businesses, whether sales take place via the Internet or not. All businesses today need web addresses just as much as they need telephone numbers, and good, memorable web addresses are more important than ever."

A common belief is that search engines like Google make specific web addresses, that is, Internet domain names, relatively unimportant. "That is not true," asserts psychologist Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D. "As in other areas of branding, names are everything, and memorable names on the Internet are more important than ever before."

Telephone numbers are generally not retained in memory, unless they are associated with words--a telephone directory is necessary to list the telephone numbers of most places consumers might want to call. "A wonderful feature of the Internet is that web addresses are accesible by letters and words. There is no need for an Internet directory, that is, a search engine, when we can remember the name of the place we want to visit on the Internet," Griffith remarks.

Search engines are effective in sending motivated traffic for a first-time visit. But Griffith finds that search engines beget fickleness. "Google seems so fast that many of us do not remember to keep or search our web browser 'favorites' or 'history'. The search engine itself becomes our friend, our department store, our brand, rather than brand being the individual product or service and its web address."

That's okay with Google, who needs you to forget where you went before so you will have to come back to Google and search again. After all, as America is well aware of late, Google makes a lot of money including paid listings on its search results pages.

In fact, Griffith believes one reason search engines have become so important in Internet sales is that many businesses are overlooking the power of the memorable web address both in branding and in attracting web page visitors--and in bringing them back.

However, since she "began talking publicly in recent months about memorable web addresses and better use of web pages, I do see some positive change in television advertising with respect to use of appropriate Internet domain names. But there is a lot of room for improvement, ironically especially for big business."

Griffith is director of and, groups providing consultation about appropriate web addresses and web pages for business. Her paper Branding and Effective Use of Web Addresses and Web Pages: So This Century, So This, is featured this month in the online journal (as well as is online at That paper outlines principles for effective Internet use by advertisers.

Memorable web addresses free Internet surfers of some of their visits to a search engine. "Consumers go directly to web pages they they have been well-invited to visit. Today a business can announce, on television and in print advertising, a web address consumers can remember and can associate with the product or service--like for broadband and for new-age music and like and for, well, the obvious."

Dr. Griffith suggests that advertisers visit websites, like, who list targeted, memorable domain names; "you can buy for a reasonable price domain names pre-selected for your product or service, or you can use those domain name lists as inspiration for your own web address designs."

"Ebay, Google and Amazon--they are great--as names for services that work for us and as names that we remember. They are web addresses and brand names in one. We remember them. We do not have to use a search engine to find Google. When we do use a search engine to search for search engines, we find competitive search engines that also interest us and may distract us. But we don't use a search engine to find Google, because we remember its name, its domain name and web address. And Google retains us as a regular customer, not distracted by the other search engines found in a Google search."

Griffith compares the online customer's experience with that of the mall shopper. At the mall we often need to leave a shop before buying. When we return, if we cannot remember the name of the shop and how to get there, we search for it. We have lots of branding signs to help us and relatively few shoe shops and all look different to us, so we may find the shop we want. If all the shops look the same and all the names of the shops sound the same, we look again, this time not for the shop, but for the shoes we found before. And we may buy our shoes at a different shop.

"On the Internet the situation is the same--except that the shops are many, many more in number and all are invisible, appearing before us only when we arrive at them," says Dr. Griffith. So when we look again for the shoes we want, we may end up buying our shoes at a different online store. That is, "unless we remember that the store we liked was called, for example, We remember the name and immediately know how to get to that online store. We remember the name because we noticed it on the web page and because we found it memorable."

When satisfied consumers find products and services they like, they try to go back to the same web address when they are ready to buy. But a second search by even those prior customers can lead to a different web page from the one they wanted, because they can't remember the web address where they shopped before.

"To be sure, without knowing or remembering the name of online stores or brands, consumers can find a web site offering the product or service they are searching for. But for an individual store or brand to attract its own customers, and keep them, that store or brand must use one or more memorable domain names."

"Do not let the only portal to your web pages be a search engine," Dr. Griffith suggests. A really good web address guarantees the return of a larger percentage of satisfied customers, as well as those new customers they refer. And, "as Internet viruses are seen to affect search engines, we find a new reason not to depend on already inefficient and costly search engines for all your web page visitors."

"Use a targeted, memorable web address to encourage your customers to go directly to your web page, and to remember where they visited so they can easily return. You will be reinforcing your brand each time a consumer makes a mental note of your web address--so this century,!"